Our memories make us who we are. However, we all have past events we’d rather forget.
When your brain creates memories, it uses a series of nerves that form a pathway. Whenever you recall a memory, the same pathway gets activated. Strong pathways mean clear, sharp memories.
The science of remembering is complex and delicate. But is there any way to overwrite the past? Can we turn negative memories into positive ones?
The Scientific Approach
Scientists have been trying to turn negative memories into positive memories in mice. They have made some amazing progress.
So how did they achieve this? How do you observe memories in mice?
The scientists created bad memories by giving the mice light electric shocks in one part of the cage. Positive memories came from social interaction with other mice. These interactions happened in another part of the cage.
All the test subjects preferred to go back to the location they associated with a positive memory. But was it possible to change these memories?
The researchers manipulated the brains of the mice directly. They used light to alter brain cells. Hence, they created different pathways in the brain.
After this treatment, the mice changed their behavior. They started preferring the location that they used to avoid. Thus, they had different memories connected to that part of their cage.
The Implications of This Finding
So why is this study important? Experts believe that it could help people who have PTSD.
In the case of PTSD, a traumatic event has serious long-term consequences. This condition is more than just having a bad memory. People with PTSD can have a difficult time interacting with society.
But if doctors can overwrite bad memories, it might be possible to ease the effects of PTSD and speed up recovery.